How to delete photos from your iPhone 4

August 12, 2010

It is easy to delete photos from your photo roll one at a time, but what if you want to delete a large number of photos, or photos that are not in your Camera Roll album, but in another album with no delete button?

There are about a zillion ways to move photos on and off of your iPhone 4. You could use iPhoto, iTunes Sync, or Image Capture, or you could purchase and use a third party application. Deleting photos can be more difficult, if you want to do more than drag them one at a time to the garbage can.. The iOS4 operating system does not allow an easy way to select and delete multiple photos from the Camera Roll, and offers no way to delete photos from other albums at all. For example, it is possible to wind up with an album named Photo Library after a sync with your phone, or after upgrading phones and there is no way to delete photos from this or similar albums.

If you are sure that your photos are backed up on your computer, it might be nice to erase all the photos on your phone to free up space. As it turns out, it is fairly easy to fool the iTunes sync process into doing just that. First, make a new folder somewhere handy on your computer. For the sake of logic, name that folder “Empty.” Then go to the “Photo” tab of the iTunes sync program, which is always visible when your phone (or Touch) is plugged into your computer.

On the photo tab, click in the check box in front of “Sync Photos from” if it is not already selected. Then open the drop down box to the right of the words “Sync Photos from.” Select the option “Choose folder” from this list and navigate to, and then select, the “Empty” folder that you just created. To make it at least semi-permanent, click on the “Apply” command button at the lower right of the screen.

Make sure that your iPhone photos are all saved on your computer! If they are not, you will not be able to get them back after this next step. Click on the “Sync” command button. ITunes will sync your phone, making a big show over photos. It may take it a while if your phone has a lot of photo albums or photos. What iTunes is actually doing is synching the photos with andempty folder, which results in deleting all your photos from the iPhone and leaving only an empty Camera Roll album.

After this process is done, reset the iTunes “Photo” sync tab to whatever settings you had there before and return to your normal method of syncing your photos, whether it is with iTunes or not. You have now freed up all of the photo space on your phone, still have the iPhone photos on your computer, and can start anew with iPhone photos. Happy snapping!

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54 Responses to “How to delete photos from your iPhone 4”

  1. dan smith:

    Hi Michael,

    I’ve tried this several times with an ‘empty’ folder and a trimmed down folder and it keeps the full camera roll.

    was this writted for iOS 4.1?

    Thanks,
    Dan

  2. Hari:

    Hi Man.
    Thank you very much for this it worked prefectly for me :D

  3. Alan:

    Worked for me, left the camera roll which I wanted but deleted the other stuff that I had mistakenly synced.

    Thanks very much

  4. priyanka:

    i tried this procedure several times with an empty folder. dint work for me.

  5. Pernille:

    This didn’t work for me either! Anyother way to do it?

  6. Fabhatti:

    It can be easily done from within iOS 4.2.1. Click the icon on lower left corner. Select mutiple photos and then click delete.

  7. jenny:

    thank you! worked perfect for me! i got rid of the albums except for the pictures in my phone’s camera roll. big thank you!

  8. Billy:

    This method works. I created an empty folder on my desktop clicked on synce all photos to this folder, then clicked apply, all photos were deleted from my iphone BUT DID NOT APPEAR ON MY LAPTOP. Be carefull if you want to keep these photos but not on your iphone make sure you copy them to your pc. You cannot copy photo library photos using iphone or itunes but you can buy software to do it from aniosoft.com and others. Many thanks

  9. Paul:

    Thanks, worked perfect, just left the camra roll. On my laptop I went to the start button, (bottom left corner)Acer> select Organize (top left)and selected ‘New folder’ from the top of the menu. Then rename> iEmpty.

    Then follow what Michael says.

    Thanks

  10. Brian:

    Brilliant. I’ve had no end of albums of the same pictures and not known how to get rid of them. They are now all gone and I’m again a happy snapper. Many thanks

  11. Amis:

    I tried this and it removed all my folders and the extra folder called Photo Album, but all my photos are still in the camera roll. I want those off of my phone too. I am happy that the duplicates are removed because I did have 11.2GB of photos. Not anymore, thank goodness. If theres another way to start fresh that would be great.

  12. gordon mcmillan:

    excellent thankyou , created empty folder and worked a treat . well done great advice

  13. Michael:

    You made it so simple… THANK YOU SO MUCH! You’ve saved me after hours of trying to figure out how to delete stuff. Thank you!!

  14. Ben:

    yeey finally!!I made it!! :P Thank you so much that was helpful

  15. Cathy:

    Thank you SO much! I had accidentally synced 400 work photos onto my iphone and was driving me bananas trying to figure out how to get rid of them! This simple step by step process just made my day!

  16. bob:

    thx worked well with very little computer skills lol

  17. Victor:

    Thanks Alot! Worked perfectly. I had run out of memory and had to free up space. Your instructions were easy to follow and that I appreciate.

    Thanks again!

  18. Rachel:

    You’re a genious!!

  19. Tim:

    Top Man thanks a million works great..

  20. Ross:

    Thanks for this! You did what nobody at the Apple Store could!

  21. Miranda:

    Woo-hoo! It worked! Thank you so much!

  22. sven:

    For those with a full camera roll after backing your photos up with iTunes.

    PC instructions: open explorer (some call this My Computer) and find your phone listed as a drive. Open it up, open the Internal Storage, Open DCIM and then there will be another folder, open it. This is all of your camera roll photo’s, delete or copy at will. Deleting them here permanently removes them.

    MAC instuctions: ???

  23. LB:

    Brilliant. Just worked for me. I was struggling with tonnes of photos.

  24. ss:

    OMG! This worked just as described! I was getting really frustrated and angry that I couldn’t remove these photos! Thanks so much!

  25. Janna Zaben:

    THANK YOU! IT WAS QUICK AND SIMPLE AND NOW, I HAVE SPACE ON MY PHONE

  26. Bas:

    Why making it so difficult why this can be done in a much more easier way on ANY Mac, iTunes and so iTunes-library independent:

    1. Start the app Image Capture
    2. Click on the iPhone
    3. Select all pictures with cmd-A or select just a few using the cmd or shift key, whatever suits making your selection best
    4. Click the red “no-parking” button in the bottom of the screen
    5. Confirm that you are doing something irreversible
    6. Done – direct and simple!

  27. Vasku:

    Image Capture method as proposed by Bas works best!

  28. candi:

    why can’t i delete other albums and only the pics taken on my phone?

  29. SarahP:

    GENIUS!! It worked!! Thank you so much for this assistance!!!

  30. jamcas:

    OMG! superduper thanks for that great tip! that was a relief.. i thought i would never delete those synced photos anymore….. btw, i named my folder “EMPTY” as what was instructed.. maybe that did the trick … LOL…. anyway, THANKS A TON!

  31. Mani:

    pretty good,was in trouble before.

  32. Niel:

    Tried this several times, but the photos were still there to be viewed on the iphone. It wasn’t until after I disconnected the iphone/usb cable that the photos finally removed themselves.

  33. Niel:

    iphone 4, OS4.3

  34. shelby:

    Thank you so much i was panaking thinking i could not delete my photos.

  35. Mike:

    Thanks worked perfectly
    mj

  36. lili:

    thanks alot you help me alot thanks again

  37. Sim:

    Wow, I’ve spent a good month looking for a way to delete the photos off my phone in one go…

    THANK YOU!

    :D

  38. hailey:

    Best advice i’ve found.
    worked perfectly as well.
    thankyou very very much!

  39. Teena:

    Thanks sooooo much it worked perfectly, it was driving me nuts having so many albums coz the only way i could get into the top album was to go into the camera and preview the pics then go into the camera roll….MAJOR HASSLE thanks heaps :) ))))

  40. Neil:

    Made it!!thanks ^_^

  41. Earl:

    Worked great for me! Thanks you so much.

  42. LISA:

    ALL I DID WAS AND IT WORKED, I HAD OVER 1600 PICS ON MY PHONE, i FIRST SAVED THEM INTO A FOLD HER MY PC. THEN WHILE MY IPHONE WAS HOOKED TO MY PC I WENT TO MY COMPUTER TAB, CLICKED ON IPHONE AND THERE WAS AN OPTIONS TO DELETE ALL PHOTOS, THAT SIMPLE

  43. LISA:

    I HAD OVER 1600 PICS ON MY PHONE, i FIRST SAVED THEM INTO A FOLDER IN MY PC. THEN WHILE MY IPHONE WAS HOOKED TO MY PC I WENT TO MY COMPUTER TAB, CLICKED ON IPHONE AND THERE WAS AN OPTIONS TO DELETE ALL PHOTOS, THAT SIMPLE

  44. Kay:

    Thank you!! Thank you!! Thank you!! I am so glad to get all those off my phone!!

  45. ivan:

    Thanks Michael. It works.

  46. lyd:

    worked for me thanks so much

  47. pete:

    thanks bas.

    fwiw, i used image capture as directed; photos still on phone. ejected iphone via itunes and disconnected usb cable; photos still appeared on iphone. only after shutting down iphone and restarting did the photos disappear from iphone (verizon iphone 4, v4.2.9)

  48. Kim:

    Thanks sooo much have been searching for ages How to get rid of the photos

  49. Linda:

    This worked to delete the albums I created before,only the camera roll shows up now, but now I can’t seem to create new albums and sync them in itunes. When I clink in itunes on the photo tab, click sync from, choose folder,I go to my pictures, click on a folder like “Fishing Pics” it shows NO ITEMS MATCH YOUR SEARCH. back in itunes it only has on bottom right corner revert or apply, if I click apply it will go thru the steps of synching, but then have box show up NO PHOTOS WERE COPIED not enough free space. but all my albums are now deleted… please help !!!

  50. michael:

    thanks thanks thanks

  51. don paul:

    Worked perfectly despite my belief that I was forever stuck with those photos in my “photo” app(?). also left photos from my camera role intact. Thank you so much.

  52. Jen:

    Thank you!

  53. Cataclizm:

    Worked perfectly. Thank you.

  54. Ahmad Al-Joboori:

    The answer was so simple for me, I bought android SII and kept my iPhone 4 as a music player in my car…. Apple programmers have real mental issues

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